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Are Not Bees An Advantage To Vegetation?


Vegetable physiology seems to indicate a similar necessity in that
department. The stamens and pistils of flowers answer the different
organs of the two sexes in animals. The pistil is connected with the
ovaries, the stamens furnish the pollen that must come in contact with
the pistil; in other words, it _must be impregnated_ by this dust from
the stamens, or no fruit will be produced. Now if it be necessary to
change the breed, or essential that the pollen produced by the stamens
of one flower shall fertilize the pistil of another, to prevent
barrenness, what should we contrive better than the arrangement already
made by Him who knew the necessity and planned it accordingly? And it
works so admirably, that we can hardly avoid the conclusion _that bees
were intended for this important purpose_! It is thus planned! Their
wants and their food shall consist of honey and pollen; each flower
secretes but little, just enough to attract the bee; nothing like a
full load is obtained from one; were it thus, the end in view would not
be answered; but a hundred or more flowers are often visited in one
excursion; the pollen obtained from the first may fertilize many,
previous to the bees' returning to the hive; thus a field of buckwheat
may be kept in health and vigor in its future productions. A field of
wheat produces long slender stalks that yield to the influence of the
breeze, and one ear is made to bestow its pollen on a neighboring ear
several feet distant, thereby effecting just what bees do for
buckwheat. Corn, from its manner of growth, the upright stalk bearing
the stamens some feet above the pistils, on the ears below, seems to
need no agency of bees; the superabundant pollen from the tassel is
wafted by the winds rods from the producing stalk, and there does its
office of fertilizing a distant ear, as is proved by different
varieties mixing at some distance. But how is it with our vines
trailing on the earth, a part of these flowers producing stamens, the
other only pistils? Now it _is absolutely essential_ that pollen from
the staminate flowers shall be introduced into the pistillate to
produce fruit; because if a failure occurs in this matter the germ will
wither and die. Here we have the agent ready for our purpose; these
flowers are visited by the bee promiscuously; no pollen (as was said)
is kneaded into pellets, (particularly that from pumpkins,) but it
adheres to every part of their body, rendering it next to impossible
for a bee thus covered with dust to enter the pistillated flower
without fulfilling the important duty designed, and leave a portion of
the fertilizing dust in its proper place. Hence it is reasonably
inferred by many, that if it was not for this agent among our vines,
the uncertainty of a crop from non-fertilization would render the
cultivation of them a useless task.

When the aphis is located on the stalk or leaf of a plant it is
furnished with means to pierce the surface and extract the juices
essential to the formation of the plant, thereby preventing vigorous
growth and a full development. This idea is too apt to be associated
with the bee when she visits the flower, as if she was armed with a
spear, to pierce bark or stem and rob it of its nourishment. Her real
structure is lost sight of, or perhaps never known; her slender
brush-like tongue folded closely under her neck, and seldom seen except
when in use, is not fitted to pierce the most delicate substance; all
that it can be used for is to sweep or lick up the nectar as it exudes
from the pores of the flower, secreted, it would seem, for no other
purpose but to attract her--while there she obtains nothing but what
nature has provided for her and given her the means of obtaining, and
the most delicate petal receives no injury.

During an excursion the bee seldom visits more than a single species of
flower; were it otherwise, and all kinds of flowers were visited
promiscuously, by fertilizing one species with the pollen from another,
the vegetable kingdom would be very likely to get into confusion.
Writers, when noticing the peculiarity of instinct governing the bee
here, cannot be content always, but must add other marvels. They follow
this trait into the hive, and make her store every kind by itself
there. Relative to honey it is not an easy matter to be positive; but
pollen is of a variety of colors, generally yellow, yet sometimes
pale-green, and reddish or dark-brown. Now I think a little patient
inspection would have satisfied any one that two kinds _are_ sometimes
packed in one cell, and prevented the assertion to the contrary. I will
admit that two colors are seldom found packed together, but sometimes
will be. I have thus found it, and it has entirely ruined that theory
for me.

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